Monday, May 17, 2010

lawn & garden

When we moved in last July, invasive Japanese Knotweed was creeping out of the woods and into our lawn. The stuff is nearly impossible to kill, since its root system can reach 10 feet into the soil and spread 20 feet horizontally. It is very, very well adapted to life in the suburban northeast.

Herbicides can be effective, but since we have dogs we were reluctant to spray the lawn with toxins. Instead, we mowed the knotweed down to nothing and covered the area with opaque tarps. Since Japanese Knotweed can lie dormant for years awaiting sunnier conditions, we knew we couldn't starve it to death, only halt its growth temporarily.

We left the tarps all winter. A few shoots sprouted up between the seams, along with some dandelions and weeds. When we finally pulled up the tarps last weekend, incredibly, a dozen green knotweed shoots had emerged underneath the tarps, without any access to sunlight. This stuff is unstoppable.

I went around on my hands and knees and dug out the rogue shoots. Then I tilled the entire area with a hoe (I am still sore). We put down grass seed yesterday and have been keeping it damp.

I know we haven't killed the knotweed, but I'm hoping the grass will come in, compete for sunlight and nutrients, and slow the knotweed down a bit. If we keep the area mowed, the knotweed won't have a chance to build up food stores and grow thick stalks. I'll let you know in a few weeks if we actually grow grass.

Do you remember the overgrown tangle growing along the driveway?

We had lilies, grass, some kind of ground cover plant, and two types of baby trees!

Over the past month I dug all of that up (again, ouch), and turned over the soil. Yesterday we put in two yellow flowering rhododendrons.

They're small now, but they can grow up to 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, so in a few years I hope they'll cover up our ugly basement windows.

I'll probably cover the open soil with more driveway gravel.

Yay for low-maintenance bushes and yay for neatness!


Anonymous,  July 5, 2010 at 9:11 AM  

that stuff sounds like a nightmare!

we planted rhododendrons too. Yeah for neat and clean landscaping!!